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  • 26

    Ferroconcrete Cases, Sausage Migrants, and Santa Barbara: Self-Reflexive Metaphors Among Russophone Refugees in Estonia

    Advanced seminar arranged by the Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University.

    Speaker: Anastasiya Astapova, University of Tartu (Estonia).

    Chair: Yulia Gradskova, Södertörn University.

    Discussant: Maarja Saar, Södertörn University.

    Drawing upon the extensive fieldwork conducted since 2015, this talk will survey the refugee situation in Estonia. After giving an account of the refugee public perception, which mainly concentrates on Asian and African refugees, I will, however, focus on a large yet less discussed group of recent migrants in Estonia. Since 1997 when first refugees were acknowledged in Estonia, 51% of asylum or subsidiary protection has been granted to Russophone asylum-seekers from post-Soviet countries. They have come to Estonia on a variety of reasons; one of them is a vernacular reputation of Estonia as a country granting asylum to post-Soviet refugees more eagerly than, for instance, Poland and Lithuania.

    As several scholars studying refugee trials have noted, in addition to the right choice of the country, the acceptance as a deserving refugee requires coherent performance and logical narrative. To make sense of the right strategy and navigate through the legal demands, Russophone asylum-seekers have employed self-reflexive metaphors to classify themselves and their peers as deserving or undeserving refugees. I will explore the recurrent metaphors of “ferroconcrete cases”, “sausage migration”, and “Santa Barbara refugees” to show how legal expectations crystallize in these vernacular classifications and allow to codify the asylum-seeking process with familiar categories.

    Anastasiya Astapova is a research fellow at the Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore (University of Tartu) and Visby postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (Uppsala University). She has recently defended her PhDs on Belarusian political folklore and nationalism (University of Tartu; 2015) and student humor (Russian Academy of Sciences; 2016). She has visited Ohio State University (2013–2014), Charles University in Prague (2016), Hebrew University in Jerusalem (2017), Belgrade University (2017), and Indiana University (2017) on research and teaching fellowships and gave invited talks in many other research and educational institutions. She has done fieldwork and published over 20 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on genres of political mythology and ideology, including conspiracy theories, protest movements, and jokes. Astapova’s post-doctoral research interests have widened to include refugees, asylum-seekers, and Russian-speakers in Estonia.

    She has been combining voluntary work with ethnographic field research in Estonian NGOs, refugee accommodation centers, and cultural associations of national minorities. Astapova is a part of running projects “Social Initiative of Support to Minorities Through Media Activism” (European Commission, 2016–2018), COST action “Comparative Analysis of Conspiracy Theories” (2016–2020) as well as Estonian Research Council projects “Performative Negotiations of Belonging in Contemporary Estonia” (2018–2021) and “Tradition, Creativity and Society: Minorities and Alternative Discourses” (2013–2018).

    Tid och plats

    När: måndag 26 november kl. 13:00-14:30

    Vad: högre seminarium

    Var: Room MA 796, CBEES, Södertörn University

    Arrangeras av: The Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University

    Evenemangsspråk: engelska